First thoughts on Second Thoughts

It’s been a harsh tournament season over the past few months in Netrunner town. Both Australian Nationals and the World championship took place in the same metagame, one that was shaken up by Opening Moves powerhouses like Hostage, Grim and Jackson “three of” Howard. Today Mike Gresham, Patrick Chapman and I will look at the latest Data pack to hit your local game store, Second Thoughts, and see how each card could impact your next game night!

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Bishop:

Tomas: Unfortunately for Bishop, there’s already a program out there that does a similar thing slightly better at similar cost. Datasucker is still going to be king in this space at least until we have the full Caissa support from the rest of the cycle.

Patrick: There’s two ways to look at this card: in a deck with the upcoming Deep Red, or without it. Without, Bishop is… okay. Decreasing the strength of ice is nice, but Anarchs already have so many tools to do that, and honestly, Parasite and Datasucker do it better. With Deep Red, on the other hand, if you have a Self-Modifying Code or Clone Chip at your disposal, Bishop becomes an effective panic button if something nasty gets rezzed and you’re relying on fixed strength breakers. Notably, a lot of the illicit ice we’ve seen is nestled at the seemingly comfortable strength of 5. But our boy Bishop here will take that nicely into Mimic range for you.

Mike: Another Caissa comes into the fold (and I love the flavour of these, thank you Damon Stone). Probably still need the full suite of Caissa and associated support before you start seeing a lot of these cards getting played. I am a little more positive than Tomas though: whilst it lacks the versatility of Datasucker, with Shock on the horizon it may get more difficult to load up on Virus counters. In any event, it may find a home in heavy ice destruction decks.

 

Scheherazade:

Tomas: While the card is quite a verbal beat down, I’m not a fan. A card that you really want to see early but never want to see more than one of. The upside is pretty good for shapers performing clone chip and self-modifying code shenanigans. I haven’t been playing much shaper lately so I don’t know if they have the influence, but Scheherazade will bring the green team back in vogue.

Patrick: A free credit for every program you install. If you’re willing to take the risk of one Rototurret with a Corporate Troubleshooter blowing up your whole rig. But forget about the risk: are the 3-5 credits the average runner will make off this even worth the opportunity cost of having copies of these in your deck? Maybe if you’re Noise or the Professor and plan on spamming programs every turn, and don’t mind if you lose them either (or plan to install over them). That’s the only kind of deck this really works in, though.

Mike: This jawbreaker seems limited to two types of decks:

1.     Heavy Test Run/SMC/Clone Chip decks. Katman springs to mind.

2.     Noise/Sahasrara. Imp and Gorman Drip are obvious choices. Less obvious are no longer useful programs or programs that you’re playing using Sahasrara just to Pawnshop or mill, like a spare Djinn, Medium, Nerve Agent, Darwin or Crypsis. Hell, play it just because of its phonetic synergy with Sahasrara.

Otherwise, is it really worth going all in and loading up Scheherazade and praying that you don’t bump into a Troubleshot Roto or Grim? Even then, being unique means the second or third copy is irrelevant unless your first Scheherazade is empty and you have Pawnshop (or you’re going to use it as Wotan bait?)

 

Hard at Work:

Tomas: It’ll be hard to make this card work.

Patrick: I’ve heard a lot of talk about this being the “worst card” in the game. That’s probably not true. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a deck that would want to run this over Kati Jones or Magnum Opus, or even Armitage Codebusting. The numbers just don’t work out in its favour. My theory is that in the future we’ll see more cards that trigger when the runner spends a click (like the spoiled Sundew) that might make cards like this desirable, as it technically doesn’t require you to spend a click to pay up, but until we do, there’s no good reason to be using this.

Mike: Please don’t compare this to Wyldside. I have no idea what possessed FFG to make this 2 influence. It upsets me to see Noise associated with such a card.

 

Recon:

Tomas: Potential applications with John Masanori and Data Leak Reversal aside, expose effects are probably better.

Patrick: Another tool in the Criminal arsenal to allow safe face checking. In a vacuum, I’d say this card has a place, but right now it’s filling the same niche as Faerie, since at the moment sentries are the only thing a runner really worries about being surprised by anyway. And unlike Recon, Faerie can be kept in play until it’s actually needed. So if more dangerous code gates and barriers are printed, this might get better, but until then it’s not really worth the deck space.

Mike: Unless you’re really hard up for memory, stick with Snitch if you want a similar effect.

Ok, so Snitch doesn’t force the Corp to rez the ice before you choose to jack out, but if the element of surprise is important for the ice and they need you to face plant, chances are the Corp won’t rez. If they really want to protect the asset/agenda that’s installed, prevent access to a central or tax you, they’ll rez. If you don’t jack out and you get through, then they couldn’t have stopped you anyway so what does it matter?

 

Copycat:

Tomas: I can’t think of a more situational card; I don’t like it. Because of this, someone is totally going to tutor one up with Self-modifying code and get me real good with it. #GameNightBadBeats

Patrick: Excellent. Because as I’ve always said, what Criminals really need is even more ways to completely ignore the corp’s defences and just get into servers anyway. Seriously, this card is good. Not the kind of thing you’d want to have three copies of, but rather something you’d want to keep hidden in reserve until you really need it. Because sure, in some games it’ll do nothing, but sometimes, it’ll just win the game for you. It has the potential to be far better than an Inside Job if the Corp isn’t careful about their ice placement. And until Corps wise up and stop playing 3 copies of their cheap ETR ice, they’re going to have a hard time pre-emptively defending against Copycat.

Mike: I’m with Tomas on this one. Super situational. Perhaps restricted to a ‘one of’ opportunistic card in a deck with SMCs. Just what the Professor ordered, perhaps?

 

Leviathan:

leviathan

Tomas: It’s a good thing that beast has such a big mouth, because it’s going to have a whale of a time eating all your creds. Peacock is better, words I hoped to never say.

Patrick: On my computer I have an Excel file that lists the cost to break every piece of ice with each breaker, because apparently I need better hobbies. Looking at that spread sheet now I still cannot think of a good reason to play this. I guess if you’re super starved for influence then it’s slightly better at breaking Datapike than Peacock is? Otherwise you should just play Peacock. Or better yet, free up some influence and go out-of-faction for your decoder. Like so many cards on this list, this one will probably get better as new cards are released, but right now it’s a little bit terrible.

Mike: Oh dear. Until Code Gates with 3+ subroutines like Hourglass (or a heavily advanced Salvage) become markedly more prevalent, there’s no reason to run this card. Unless you like strangely fitting flavour text.

 

Eureka!:

Tomas: I have high hopes for this card. I’m sure in a few cycles time there will be more cards that interact favourably with it. For now you can set up some good value with Test run and…That’s about it. Call me when someone says ‘Eureka my Monolith into play…’

Patrick: At first a 10 credit discount seems massive, but when you factor in the cost to play plus the fact this is a double event, it gets a bit less impressive. Then there’s the fact that in order for this to do anything more that just misfire hilariously, you have to know what’s on the top of your deck. That requires more preparation, like playing a Test Run or Motivation. Best use of this card right now is to get a Toolbox or Femme Fatale out semi-cheaply (or Monolith, if you’re that dead set on making that card work). Overall it’s not bad, but it seems built to accommodate a deck archetype that I don’t think exists yet.

Mike: 2 things Tomas;

1.     Let’s not forget Motivation?!? :/

2.     Hard casting Monolith for 18 credits is far more satisfying than using Eureka!

 

Record Reconstructor:

Tomas: Great flavour text, you can always refer to it if you forget how to play with this card. I think it will shine in fixed strength breaker decks. Giving your opponent all their Enigmas and Data Pikes back once Yog hits the table seems very un-fun for your opponent. Traditionally these frowny faces are by-products of strong cards (see: Account Syphon).

Patrick: I have a friend who’s told me more than once about how useful this could theoretically be to soft lock the Corp’s R&D by spending three clicks every turn by putting useless cards on top, letting you build up your rig in the meantime. But it only works if Archives is undefended. And they have no ice in hand. And there are useless cards in Archives. Which have to be operations, since if it’s ice they can get around this by just installing it into new remotes. So as a deck-defining strategy, it’s not up to much. But this card does give the runner the ability to do something that’s never been possible before, and that is worth something. We’ll just have to wait and see how useful that ability really is.

Mike: One of the more interesting cards in the pack. Slows the Corp down, theoretically giving you more time to gather your resources and find your Corroder/Magnum Opus/whatever. Combine with Datasuckers, Dirty Laundry, fixed strength breakers (as noted by Tomas) etc. for extra value.
It’s not all sweetness and light though. Its ability isn’t cumulative and is dependent on there being face up cards in Archives that you don’t want the Corp to have. If the Corp just discards the card you gave it you’ll need to run Archives twice to give it the same card (once to access and flip, once to return to R&D). Shock will also be annoying in the future.
Best time for deployment may be the mid game, where there should be some useless cards in Archives, the Corp is looking for agendas to score and you’re trying to complete your rig. That combined with the fact that its ability doesn’t stack means that you likely only want one or two in your deck.

 

Prepaid VoicePAD:

Tomas: Seems like it will slot into existing Andromeda builds. There are about half a dozen commonly played events that you can score a discount with the PAD. Keep in mind that you will have to play at least 5 of those over 5 turns for it to be as good as Easy Mark and due to most of those events costing one credit, the second PAD is not as good as the first.

Patrick: Honestly, I like this card. I don’t think it will see much play – I suspect it will end up being a little too slow to pay off for most people to bother with it, but there’s a deck in here somewhere involving lots of 2-3 cost events, and possibly Replicator and Inside Man to get these installed quickly. That’s niche, to be sure, and this certainly isn’t worthy of going into most decks, but if you can build the one deck it does fit into, it’ll be the backbone of its economy.

Mike: Unless you’re desperate for filler or for influence, why not just play Easy Mark?

 

Wotan:

Tomas: The first unique piece of ICE and it doesn’t mess around. A massive twelve creds to break with Corroder and it easily fits into big ice decks aiming to oversight/efficiency research some prime beef onto the field. Outside of those cheaty decks, ‘Big W’ competes with Heimdall 2.0 and I’m in two minds about who wins that gun show.

heimwotan

Patrick: Wow. Okay, so admittedly for all those flashy subroutines, this card is really just a big wall. It doesn’t hurt the runner at all to face plant straight into it. And if they really want to get through, they can (though the way it’s worded, I’m suspecting they can’t get around the “trash a program” sub by just not having any programs installed, so that’s a nice touch). All that said, this is a bioroid that isn’t susceptible to E3 Feedback Implants or Deus X, can’t actually be broken with clicks, and still benefits from cards like Bioroid Efficiency Research, and if you use that to get this out for cheap, then you can bet the server it’s on is going to be safe the entire game.

Mike: What a behemoth, with a rez cost to match. The wording of the ice means that the Runner will have to pay all of the alternate costs to get through unless they want to shell out an inordinate amount of credits or Datasucker tokens. There are only so many big pieces of ice that you can fit in a deck, but I’d take Wotan over the others every time.

 

Hellion Alpha Test:

Tomas: In a meta filled with Hostage, Kati and Professional Contacts, the hellions might be good enough. Gutting the runner’s economy as they try to set it is backbreaking and I can see games where they just never get started because the Corp had a few of these bad boys. At three influence though, will it make its way into NBN? Keep an eye out.

Patrick: I look at this card and think how great it would be for NBN, and then I look at the influence cost and realise the designers thought that too. There are definitely uses for this card (like killing off a 9 credit Kati Jones the turn after they install a Daily Casts) but they are very situational, and if you want to take advantage of them you’ll have to let this card sit in your hand doing nothing for potentially the whole game. If your deck is built around constant resource harassment I guess it could be worth a shot, otherwise this is just too much of a fringe benefit.

Mike: Seems reasonable provided you get it early enough, as it’s likely useless late game. You’ve got to win the trace though, so better make sure the setback to your economy is worth the setback to theirs. And three influence? Don’t think it’ll see much play anywhere other than HB.

 

Clone Retirement:

Tomas: A reminder that if you haven’t seen Cloud Atlas, definitely give it a look. Gameplay wise I’m totally down for some easy-to-score Jinteki agendas. The downside is probably not that big a deal, though many subscribe to the idea that the ‘proper’ way to play Jin is to make the runner spend the most effort on each run. Still, this will see play likely alongside Grim and friends. You’ve been warned.

Patrick: 2/1 agendas are pretty sweet from what we’ve seen, given the popularity of NBN and Weyland’s versions. And Jinteki: Personal Evolution’s ability really benefits from having many small agendas rather than a few big ones. That said this is the first agenda we’ve seen that has a drawback attached when it’s stolen, so it’s a big risk including them in a deck. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of antics Jinteki can pull by heaping on bad publicity for Clone Retirement’s “when scored” effect to be worth the risk (probably something involving Profiteering) but an easy in-faction way to rez Archer might be reason enough to start putting this in decks.

Mike: Everything’s coming up Jinteki. A 1 pointer for those focussed on maximising Jinteki: PE’s ability, 2 advancement requirement meaning it can be scored cheaply out of hand and removing a BP will soften the sharp edge of Profiteering and Grim. Get on it.
Oh, bonus observation: flavour text hints at a possible Runner by the name of Tenma. Cross-reference the spoiled Plugged-In card Tenma Line. Does this mean we will have a clone Runner?

 

Swordsman:

Tomas: Seems okay. Most runners set up the sentry breaker before hitting unrezzed ICE when they have a few programs out. Atman-based decks commonly run proper sentry breakers and clone chips so it’s not going to hit them as hard as you’d want. Outside of AI breakers, it’s only one net damage. This means it might not keep people out of your servers but will potentially sucker people into killing themselves. Metagame dependant but the swordsman will probably get some action.

Patrick: Remember those few weeks when everyone was scared Atman-only decks were going to break the game? Me neither. Nobody would be crazy enough to try that now that Swordsman exists, and the simple fact that it does exist might be what makes it good, regardless of whether it’s in your deck or not. As for actually playing it, it might be good if the runner’s relying on a Crypsis or Darwin to protect them in the early game, but if they don’t have any AI breakers, I’m really not sure 1 net damage is worth installing and rezzing this. Still, potential program destruction for 3 credits (below the 4 credit threshold runners are used for scary subroutines) is nice and will force runners everywhere to be just a little bit more cautious.

Mike: May see a flash of popularity to keep Atman- and Crypsis-only Runners honest, but likely to fade out somewhat once those Runners start behaving themselves. My preferred anti-AI ice, however, will be Wraparound when it lands.

Another bonus observation: it is an AP ice, so, if you really want to save your AI breaker, pop a Deus X.

 

Shipment from SanSan:

Tomas: Works with Efficiency Committee; you’re welcome Cerebral Imaging. Unlikely to see play in ‘regular’ decks, though it does mean you can advance cards without any credits. Take THAT Account Syphon.

Patrick: The good: you can combo this with Efficiency Committee to make HB Fast Advance even more obnoxious; you can surprise score an agenda on the table when the runner was sure you couldn’t afford it. The bad: hoping to score an Efficiency Committee so you can fast advance with it is janky as anything; now that this has been released, everybody’s going to think it’s in your hand all the time and won’t think you can’t afford to score agendas. So it’ll probably be okay. Most of the time it’ll just save you 2 credits, but that’s Beanstalk Royalties levels of efficiency, so it’s still decent.

Mike: Obvious benefits for HBFA when combined with Efficiency Committee. HBFA and NBNFA may also get a slight boost as it allows a Biotic Labour FA to be slightly cheaper. However, I think it might also see some use in NBN Never Advance: as it allows a 3 pointer to be scored with only one credit (or no credits if you have an active Astroscript or SanSan City Grid), a card installed face down in such circumstances can no longer be assumed to be a non-agenda. It also allows Breaking News to be scored without spending credits, leaving them free to trash that fully loaded Kati the Runner is sporting.

 

Muckraker:

Tomas: Unfortunately not so great against runners with starting link, might cause others some problems. In a tag heavy deck it might do some damage and it does cost a few credits to break through on average. Other decks should look towards Grim or Ichi to put the hurt on the runner for that price.

Patrick: Until now there have only been two ways to surprise the Runner with multiple tags at once: Midseason Replacements (requires an agenda to have just been stolen, can usually be seen coming from a mile away) and Big Brother (requires them to be tagged in the first place). Muckraker has the potential to do this, though in practice it’ll likely never give out more than one or two tags when it’s hit. Afterwards it’s mildly but not hugely expensive to break. For 5 credits and 1 bad publicity, it seems underwhelming compared to Grim. I’m reserving judgement at this stage, as maybe it could be devastating if you build a deck around it, but at the moment I’m not convinced it’s all that scary.

Mike: The trace subroutines combined with bad publicity in a faction that loves traces and has no in-faction ability to remove bad publicity makes me sad. Even sadder when facing a Link Runner. Being in Mimic range makes three sad faces, too many for me. Surely there are better, more reliable ways to stick tags?

 

The Cleaners:

Tomas: Government contracts is a powerful agenda, so the janitors have got some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately a lot of Tag’n’Bag games come down to how many plascretes the Runner has and The Cleaners doesn’t help you on that front. I’m not an avid Weyland player of late but I’m sure this card will pop up.

Patrick: If you’re playing Weyland Tag ‘n’ Bag, you should probably play this card. That’s an archetype that loves to minimise its agenda density, so 5/3s are a plus, and this has more utility to you than a Government Contracts. With this scored, double Scorched Earth will break through one Plascrete Carapace and kill a runner with 5 cards in hand. Yes please.

Mike: Surely a must have for Tag-n-Bag. With the Cleaners installed a double Scorch can punch through a single Plascrete and triple Scorch will get through 2 Plascretes. Yaaaaay, just what we all need, more ways for the Corp to melt Runners with Scorched Earth :/
Much more fun is its interaction with Private Security Force. But once you’ve got both scored, it’s only 2 more points to victory…

 

Elizabeth Mills:

Tomas: Once again, I’m not up to date with Weyland game theory but I would guess that Elizabeth isn’t going to see much play. Dedicating space to a lady who most of the time JUST removes bad pub (that you need to have in the first place) isn’t fantastic. Maybe if personal workshop comes back or we get another powerhouse location, but for now I think it’s back to the drawing board for Liz.

Patrick: Forget Atman. Remember when everyone was complaining that Personal Workshop in Noise was going to break the game? Yeah, no. Anyway, I like this card for Weyland, just for getting rid of that bad publicity. I don’t think there are enough locations in the game that are commonly played to make her other ability generally worthwhile though. As an aside, I do find it interesting that we’re seeing a lot of cards in the Spin Cycle focused on blowing up resources. Perhaps the designers felt that they were getting abused a little too much back in the Genesis days.

Mike: Again Tomas and I are on all fours here; she doesn’t seem good enough to warrant inclusion just to remove the Bad Publicity and, unless we get a Location that you simply have to kill without the uncertainty of tagging the Runner, she’s probably going to stay in the file.

 

Off the Grid:

Tomas: Roving submarine, this is not. Six creds is a high price to pay and at a glance, I don’t think this is better than SanSan. There might be a big ICE deck out there that can load up HQ with oversighted fatties and use the saved credits to throw up one of these and score a few agendas. This could be one of the more overlooked cards in the pack but it’s going to take a lot of play testing to figure out.

Patrick: In principle, if you can set up a secure defense on your central servers you can lay this down with an agenda and start advancing happily behind a few pieces of cheap ice, confident that the cost of running two well-defended servers will just be too much for the average runner to bother with. In practice, Criminals are as popular as ever, and they are good at finding ways into HQ. Couple that with the hefty rez cost (even Weyland can get uncomfortable about blowing 6 credits on one upgrade) and the fact that it’s free to trash from R&D, and this card will see fairly limited play. Make no mistake though: if you can survive long enough to be able to use it effectively, it is great. It’s just really hard to get to that stage.

Mike: Definitely a card to build around. Needs a glacier of ice on R&D and pray that you don’t see a Sneakdoor. Might be slightly more useful in Jinteki:RP once Caprice Nisei comes out (though you then have the problem of Jinteki’s porous ice).

 

Profiteering:

Tomas: Fifteen credits is a lot. So is three bad publicity. I feel like this card is going to be better than Gila Hands Arcology in most decks but it’s pretty close. For fast advance decks the cash can definitely give you the breathing room to rez a SanSan or Biotic Labour your last few agendas. If there was ever a reason to pick up two of this data pack, Profiteering is it.

Patrick: An interesting trade-off here. Personally I’ve been reluctant to use the counters on Geothermal Fracking whenever I’ve played it, and they give you 2 more credits for each bad publicity than this does. So this only reaches its fullest potential if you really don’t care about bad publicity (say, in a flatline deck). But if you really don’t care, well, getting 15 credits immediately after scoring a point does wonders for your tempo.

Mike: Pretty much any deck that values money over keeping the Runner out will want this card. Fast Advance? Check. Tag-n-Bag? Check (to a point). Jinteki? Check (again, to a point). Big ice decks may even want it, since the cost over time to break the ice (even taking into account the BP) may be worth it (although that’s a questionable conclusion). Otherwise? I’d prefer almost any other 3 for 1.

 

Restructure:

Tomas: Not the auto-include that Hedge Fund is by a long shot. Knowing what decks can support it (and how many it can support) will be a matter of play testing. Restructure will have a bigger impact on the games where you can’t play it than the games where you get it off.

Patrick: Alright folks, pack it in. The Corp has won this data pack, everybody go home. Restructure is not quite as good as Hedge Fund, since the best economy cards tend to be the ones that quickly get you from no money to a lot of money, not from a lot of money to even more money (there comes a point when it just doesn’t matter anymore). But this is still great, and will encourage Corps playing it to consistently have enough money to play it, and consistently having 10 credits or more, well, that’s a pretty good place to be in.

Mike: Another card that needs to be built around. Weyland Core and Weyland GRNDL could probably take advantage of this more than others, as well as any other decks that rely heavily on asset/agenda/burst economy, particularly Celebrity Gift. In almost all other circumstances, I’m sure I’d wind up sitting on 1 credit and 2 Restructure in my hand. The threshold of needing 10 credit, 4 more than Hedge Fund, all for 1 more credit is just a bit rich for my blood.

 

The Watch List

Not necessarily the most powerful cards of the pack, these are our picks for potential game makers and breakers.

Tomas:

  1.  Hellion Alpha Test
  2. Profiteering
  3. Record Reconstructor
  4. Prepaid VoicePAD
  5. Off the Grid

Patrick:

  1. Restructure
  2. Wotan
  3. Copycat
  4. Clone Retirement
  5. Off the Grid

Mike:

  1. Clone Retirement
  2. Shipment from SanSan
  3. Profiteering
  4. Record Reconstructor
  5. Off the Grid

See something that we missed? Agree or disagree with anything we mentioned? Leave us a reply below to make your opinion heard! Stay tuned for future Netrunner and LCG content here on ATGN.

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